The making of raffle history!

20 06 2010

Two slightly socially inept women and a book of raffle tickets to sell.  We’d be lucky to flog one! The solution? YOUTH!  If there is one thing that ‘youth’ do better than me is shake tins and sell raffle tickets.  Think you don’t want one? Think the key cabinet or the solar fairy lights don’t warrant a £1 ticket? Well apparently you will when asked by three 17 year olds. Maybe it’s fear.  We all know that behind those cheery smiles lies irrational gun toting evilness  (right…. ?!)

Apparently the UK has more Mosquitoes that any other European country, so it’s a wonder that I managed to rustle up three at all. But once rustled they worked the circuit like raffle whirling dervishes. Wonderfully they managed to raise over £100 for our two trip charities!

The Furzedown festival  felt a lot like the church fetes of my youth. Who says local community in London is dead? Not in Tooting and not in Furzedown. It was an interesting day with a number of key saving graces; all of which attest to the jolly goodness of folk. The day started too early with me struggling to erect a rather unwieldy gazebo. Wind, size and me-doing-it-on-my-own-lyness resulted in a catastrophe of canvas, guy ropes and fuming expletives. Luckily for me two local gazebo heroes (in the guise of burly Ron and cheery Dave) rushed to my aid and the day was saved before it had even started (or stalled).  The second was the aforementioned youth – hurrah youth!  The third was a moment of bravery about two weeks ago that resulted in our winning prize in the raffle. Local to us is a truly scrummy award winning restaurant –  Rick’s Cafe.  Sweaty palmed (of course he’ll never agree..), I approached the door (we don’t mean to be a bother..) and shoved Liz in (she looks less nervous than me…). Three heart reaching minutes later (ever one for the dramatic) Ms cool as a cucumber returned having secured a top prize of a free meal at Rickss Cafe! Bonus! We are in raffle business… and the rest is raffle history!

Ps – If you’re ever in Tooting and want a delightful evening, Rick’s really is tip toppedy tops (and that’s not just because he is generous – he is also really smashing with food!) Rick’s Café 122 Mitcham Road, Tooting London SW17 9NH. (020) 8767 5219

15 versions of wow!

9 06 2010

As I stand on the precipice about to make the big leap to jump into this adventure, 15 versions of ‘wow!’ have sidled their way into my inbox.  It’s 2 days until I leave my job for good.

A simple ‘see ya later, nice working with you’ email to clients, colleagues and others I have worked with over the last three and half years as an environmentalist resulted in this heartfelt outpouring of wow.  The thing that made me smile more than anything was that they all popped in within 5 minutes of each other in direct response to my email and every single email began with ‘wow!’ followed by some other sharing of luck, shared experience, desire to join us on our journey, or news about new business ventures.  I think everyone should send an email like this at least once in their lives.

… liz’s first ever blog!!!

Oh no! Liz gets a new bike!

6 06 2010

Liz is now the proud owner of a Condor Heritage touring steed.


I’ve only been cycling for about 3 years and the vast majority of my cycling experience has consisted of staring at Liz’s bum rolling merrily off into the distance. The Red Stallion revolutionised everything, I had my first taste of passing Liz on a hill and taking the lead, on a few occasions I’ve even had to wait for her to catch up!

Am I fitter than Liz? No. Am I more driven with gung-ho spirit? No. It was all because of the Red Stallion under me and the lesser mountain bike under her.

Now, however, things are set to change. The Condor Heritage sits confident, calm, and understated; a newcomer in the bike room. I can sense my little red stallion eyeing her up nervously, completion is in town!


31 05 2010

From everything that we have read, to everything that we have heard, through everything we have been told – Injury prevention has to become a central part of our daily

lives while on the road. Historically we are lazy stretchers. This has to change! Otherwise there is the very real risk of muscle injury. I’m in my early thirties, I don’t exercise every day, I only started riding a bike 3 years ago (the things you do for love), and I get migraines.   Despite our nod at training I’m under no illusions that my body is in for one hell of a shock.  Liz, as my sister kindly reminded me, has been t

raining for this since she could first peddle, while I need all the help I can get. Luckily for us the help miraculously appeared in the form of Alan Coles.

Alan from our local osteopaths ( )  kindly donated a session on injury prevention to help us on our way. He patiently worked through a number of key stretches and massage techniques that would help keep the muscles from getting tighter as they get stronger. He even went through the basics on how to treat acute injuries.  What a hero!

Interestingly it turns out that Liz is a bit of a wiz at massage while she is lucky to still be in one piece after my enthusiastic efforts!

Bexhill-on-sea: Fush n’ chups and a quick Triathlon

23 05 2010

Friday evening was summer incarnate; in fact, it probably was The Summer, so, in fear of missing it we embarked on as many summery things as possible; the drinking of pims, the visiting of friends, the sitting in the garden… you get the picture.  It was during a bout of idle summery chat that the topic of the pending weekend was raised; Liz reeled off our tombola of to-do’s and somewhere near the bottom, sandwiched between ‘buy bike bag’ and ‘make Countries of the World word search’ was, throw in a quick triathlon.  To most people (me even) this would seem like a central feat, a tenant of the weekend but to liz it’s just another thing on the list.

Bexhill-on-sea. 6.50 Sunday morning (as I was just contemplating cracking open my beady eyes in a bid to get to the start line in time to throw out a few supportive woops etc) Liz was down on the beach eagerly jimmying herself into a wetsuit. An hour and a half, a 750m swim in strong sea currents, a 20K cycle, and a 5K run, a quick change and a shower later and she was indeed pouring over the laptop trying to create a Countries of the World word search.

With the trip only 2 months away we really need to start thinking about fundraising, but we are mightily British and don’t really like the idea of talking about, let alone asking people for money… which is a bit of a problem since we are planning to raise money for our two key trip charities (The Food Chain and The Camillian Trust). Our Grand Plan is the Furzedown festival. We live in a small area of Tooting called Furzedown and each year the community have a little festival. A home-made spongy and buntingy affair, we have gamely booked a stall and are bowling ahead with grand plans involving a gazebo, crayons, colour-in-maps of the worlds, word searches, condoms, and sweets. Hurrah!

Ps – my training this weekend is indicated in the title …

Lakes and Legs

9 05 2010

Bank holiday horror! – After a long day at work I duly squeezed, pushed, and sweated my way across London to endure 4 hours cattle-trucked in a vomit inducing Pendolino tilting train. I churned my way to the Lake District to meet Liz, her reassurances of ‘it’ll be easy’, ‘it’s not that far really’ clanged in my ears as I sat with my head between my knees holding back wave upon wave of nausea. My mood was little improved by the forecast that gloomily predicted rain, rain, and a slosh more rain all weekend. Thus I spluttered forth from the carriage, pale, shaky, exhausted and fostering a mighty grump, at 10.30pm in the apparent middle of grumpy nowhere to be met by a chirpy Liz, plus random tick that was nestling in her leg (!?!). This did not bode well.

However, a hot bath, a couple of Guinness’s, a good night’s sleep, and the emergence of a new day, royally whipped me out of my huff.   And to top it off the weather bordered perfection – sunny and windy! Delicious!

Based in the picturesque town of Ambleside we had access to reams of sexy walks that were both breathtakingly scrumptious and afforded us a storming workout.  Ambleside plays host to a stack of outdoors shops – sh-sh-sh Shopping time! (Heaven for me, hell for Liz – horrah for me!). In the local bike shop we came across another long distance cyclist tale – Rob Lilwall’s Cycling Home from Siberia. A super read that has made me glad I’m not cycling this trip alone!

A sublime 3 days of solid leg work followed – our biggest day taking us from Ambleside up and over Helvellyn.

I am, however, slightly concerned that our (though I suspect it’s more for me than Liz) ‘training’ regime is not actually that effective. For the past few weekends we have thrown ourselves into some super fun, and physically challenging cross-training activities BUT this has somewhat become an excuse for me to not really do very much (read as ANY) exercise in the week. Big weekend blowouts are not the best way to train. The prevailing ethos seems to veer more towards small and often. The problem is that I don’t actually like exercise. If I’m getting somewhere, ok, if it’s for a purpose, ok; but the idea of running round a park, after a hard days work, is utterly repellent to me *Sigh*, I might just have to resign myself to getting fit on the job.  The concern is that Liz just loves exercise and gorges herself on it at every given opportunity. I’m increasingly concerned that it will be a real struggle for me to keep up on the trip. ……..:-Z

Cross-Training – Adventure style!

26 04 2010

Cross-training, we are reliably informed, is a jolly good way to prep for a long distance cycle ride. So Liz dutifully signed us up for an adventure race. A weekend which would, apparently, consist of ‘walking through the forest, a bit of kayaking and some activities’.  10 and a half hours of sheer physical graft and slog later we realised that we might have underestimated the challenge. Had we opened our eyes on arrival and noted the amount of Skins clad, gel laden, athletic types, rather than heading straight for the bacon butties, we might have reconsidered our entry! As it was we, somewhat naively just went for it!

Sat = Trail running – 2.30 hours, Paddles and Saddles – 3 hours, a night Trail run – 1.10 hours.

MT biking we can do. Kayaking we can do. Trail running Liz can do. Catherine CANNOT DO.

Sunday = 4 hours of all of the above. We decided to put the smallest emphasis possible on the trail running thus we had to take on some of the bigger point scoring MTB and kayaking challenges. Which meant nearly vomiting with effort crunching our way up hills, and having to eat A LOT of golden syrup cake!

At the end of the weekend we had racked up 10.30 hours of effort and came a significantly-more-reasonably-than-expected 4th in the Ladies Novices.